Are you looking for more ways to track your fertility or signs of pregnancy? Do you know what your cervix does and how to locate it?
Your cervix is the opening to your uterus located inside the vagina, and it’s a part of your body that is constantly changing to reflect what is going on with your reproductive parts.
Many women do not realize that they can check their cervical position anytime on their own to learn more about their cycle, and not only when they’re close to giving birth.
Why Should I Check My Cervical Position?
Knowledge is power. Aside from knowing more about your body, having the ability to check your cervical position can help you when you’re trying to become pregnant and assist you as you get closer to giving birth.
We’ve all heard the term “10 centimeters dilated,” but I had no idea what that actually meant until I had my first child. As your body prepares to give birth, your cervix dilates, or expands and stretches, to create a bigger opening.
The Cervix Rocks
Is Cervical Position a Pregnancy Indicator?
It’s possible to use a cervical check to determine if you’re pregnant, but it will never be as reliable as a home test or a blood test at the doctor’s office. Your cervix can change for many reasons, and it often does, depending on your cycle.
When you’re pregnant, your cervix will be higher and softer than at other times in your cycle. This will feel similar to when you’re the most fertile, but it lasts longer. If you have a good relationship with your own body, you can check on your cervix to help confirm pregnancy suspicions early on.
Even so, it’s better not to rely on this sign alone. Every woman has a different body, a different cervix, and a different reaction to pregnancy. Don’t be discouraged if your cervix doesn’t feel like it has changed. You may still be pregnant.
Tracking Fertility by Checking the Cervix
As your body begins to prepare to house a baby, it changes and moves slightly to allow a pregnancy to happen. Your cervix will move upwards, opening slightly and softening as your blood increases. You can feel these changes pretty clearly, which lets you know it’s time to start making that baby!
What Does the Cervix Feel Like?
The way your cervix feels will depend on where you are in your menstrual cycle or pregnancy. It will always feel different from the rest of your vagina, and with practice, you’ll be able to identify it quickly!
Your vagina’s interior is primarily soft and spongy, but the cervix is a harder spot deep in the back and up. The closer you get to ovulation, the softer and wider it will become, but it still won’t feel like the walls of your vagina. Instead, you’ll feel something like a button.
The walls of the vagina are also rough and irregular because of rugae, or ridges, on the surface, which gives it elasticity. The cervix is donut-shaped and completely smooth aside from a dent where the cervical opening is.
Editor's Note:Caitlin Goodwin, MSN, RN, CNM
How to Check Cervical Position
You shouldn’t be nervous about checking on your own body. Make sure you’re relaxed and ready to spend a couple of minutes investigating. Knowing how to check your cervix safely can come in handy for pregnancy or future fertility tracking, and it’s a great skill to learn!
1. Wash Your Hands
Any time you’re going to be touching your vagina, especially if you’re pregnant, you have to make sure your hands are clean. Introducing germs and bacteria into your vagina will only cause problems for you if you get an infection.
It’s also important to mention that you shouldn’t try to check your cervix if you’re dealing with a pre-existing infection, like a bacterial or yeast infection. Outside contamination will only make it worse.
2. Find a Comfortable Squat
Some women find that the toilet is the most comfortable place to explore inside their vagina, while others prefer to put a leg up on the side of the tub. You can position yourself any way you like as long as you’re comfortable and can squat or spread out enough to open your vagina.
I find that popping a squat on the bathroom floor over a handheld mirror is the easiest because I can check everything related to my vagina at once and have accompanying visuals when it comes to my explorative journey.
3. Slowly and Gently Reach in and Up
Don’t rush this part! Be gentle with yourself and slowly push your index or middle finger as far back as it will go inside your vagina. Run your finger along the top of your vagina once you reach the back.
If you’re new to this process, this could take a few moments to get the hang of. As long as you’re not in pain or uncomfortable, it’s safe to continue feeling around in there until you come across something that feels unusual. That’s your cervix!
4. Memorize How it Feels, and Document Any Changes
The first time you find your cervix, you won’t be able to know how different it is from any other time, but document what you felt. If you’re tracking your pregnancy, determine how firm you think the cervix felt, then keep up with checking on it until you feel it soften.
You can also inspect your fingers afterward and document the consistency and color of your discharge. Discharge is an entirely normal part of having a vagina, and it can help you pinpoint where you are in your cycle for timing sex to your fertility calendar.
Dangers To Checking Your Cervix
As long as your hands are clean and your nails are trimmed neatly and not long, jagged, or sharp, there is little risk to checking your cervix before pregnancy. The biggest concern comes from the potential to introduce bacteria to your vagina, especially close to labor.
You also risk disappointment if you rely too much on your cervix when checking for early pregnancy signs or as the only way to track your fertility. Pair your cervix checks with other methods to provide the most accurate results and prevent dashed hopes.
Tips for Checking Your Cervix
While this process isn’t hard to do, there are a few things you should remember before checking your cervical position. Here are some handy tips to give you an even better idea about what your body is doing and how and why it’s doing it.
1. Don’t Rely on Dilation
If you’re hoping to get an early heads-up about when you’re going into labor, don’t rely on your cervix. You can be dilated up to 3 centimeters for weeks before the birthing process begins.
2. Sometimes Your Cervix Won’t Close Completely
Having children can affect how your cervix feels, so what you felt before may never be that way again once the baby is born. Many women experience a cervix that is perpetually slightly open after giving birth, but that doesn’t mean you can’t track your fertility by how it feels. The firmness and the position will still be helpful indicators of fertility.
3. Look for Mucus Changes
The hormones that affect your cervical position also affect your mucus or discharge in the same way. Vaginal mucus seems to be something women rarely talk about, but it’s one of the most accurate and helpful ways to figure out when you’re fertile.
When you’re at your most fertile, your discharge will be clear with a slippery, elastic, and stretchy consistency like an egg white. (1)
In early pregnancy, vaginal discharge changes to thick or milky white mucus known as leukorrhea.
4. Sexual Arousal Changes Everything
Checking your cervical position during or after sex will never give you an accurate answer. Your body changes during sex or when aroused, and your cervix will move, so wait a few hours before feeling for any changes. Give your hormones and your body enough time to chill back out (2).